Today @NCCapitol (Feb. 1): What's the rush?
Posted February 1, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning, and welcome to Today @NCCapitol, WRAL's morning roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government today.
TAKE A BREATH: After two fast-paced days of lawmaking, the General Assembly is off for the weekend. Both the House and Senate will meet on Monday night and both will have a controversial bill on their calendar.
MEDICAID EXPANSION: North Carolina would not expand its Medicaid program or be involved with health care exchanges under the federal Affordable Care Act under a bill that passed the Senate Insurance Committee Thursday. That bill is scheduled to be on the Senate floor Monday night at 7 p.m.
UNEMPLOYMENT CHANGES: The House Finance Committee pushed through changes to the state's Unemployment Insurance law Thursday. Despite objections from Democrats, that bill is expected to be on the House Floor Monday night at 7 p.m. It now has the backing of Gov. Pat McCrory, as the Associated Press reported late Thursday;
McCrory announced Thursday evening during a speech in Rocky Mount that he supported the proposal, which if enacted this summer would mean a year of emergency extended benefits approved by Congress in January would end six months early in North Carolina, likely affecting tens of thousands of displaced workers.
McCrory, who would be asked to sign any final bill into law, said it's clear the current system isn't working based on the state's persistently high unemployment rate and warrants swift action, according to press secretary Crystal Feldman.
SPEED IRKS: Republicans will tell you that they're pressing ahead with high-priority agenda items and that the basics of both the unemployment bill and Medicaid bill have been known for a while. But Democrats say the legislation is moving too quickly and that the GOP is not pausing for constructive input.
"In both these situations we have an attack on the safety net we have here in North Carolina," said Rep. Larry Hall, D-Durham, the House minority leader. He was speaking during a joint press conference called by House and Senate Democrats to complain about GOP process.
"This is the worst I've seen in terms of procedure," said Sen. Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe, the Senate minority leader.
THE WRAP: Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie and reporter Mark Binker talk about the fast pace of legislating in Thursday's version of The Wrap @NCCapitol.
NAACP: Expect to hear more variations on the moving-too-fast theme when NAACP and other liberal-leaning groups hold a presser today. They'll also probably be talking about an e-mail sent by legislative freshman Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven, accusing North Carolina NAACP Rev. William Barber of having "a race-baiting attitude."
MCCRORY SCHEDULE: Gov. Pat McCrory will speak to the Tobacco Growers Association of N.C. Annual Meeting at 10 a.m. at the Fair Grounds. The topic will probably be Agriculture, but he might get questions about his position on the unemployment bill and his about his Board of Education appointments.
SPEAKING OF MCCRORY: The Charlotte Observer the governor is keeping in a hand in Charlotte politics by opposing a controversial streetcar project.
MEDICAID AUDIT: On Thursday, McCrory helped roll out an audit that found mismanagement of the state's Medicaid system.
SPEAKING OF WASTE: A WRAL Investigation by by reporter Cullen Browder and producer Randall Kerr found a number of questionable cases related to the Hurricane Redevelopment Center, a crisis housing program that was created after Hurricane Floyd hit North Carolina in 1999. Among them, a lady who asked for help with a new roof and ended up with a new house.
GROUP HOME FIX: House Republicans and Democrats did agree to a temporary payment fix for mental health group homes. After it passed the chamber, Speaker Thom Tillis called on the Senate to pass the measure.
ISSUE TRACKER UPDATED: The 2013 N.C. General Assembly Issue Tracker has been updated with action and bill filings from Thursday. A new category has been added to round up amendments to the North Carolina constitution filed in 2013.
COMING SATURDAY: Anchor David Crabtree and Capitol Bureau Chief spend this week's On the Record with Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham. As President Pro Tempore, Berger is the top leader in the chamber. He talked about changes to the unemployment system, tax reform, and more. Tune in to WRAL-TV Saturday at 7 p.m. Also worth noting: Berger just took a national post with the RLCC, a group that helps elect Republicans to legislators around the country.
TANNING: WRAL's Leyla Santiago reports on a bill that would prohibit those under 18-years-old from using tanning beds.
GUN BILLS: More firearms bills were filed Thursday, including one that would allow certain volunteers to have access to guns on educational property.
FROM THE WIRES: Gov. Pat McCrory has appointed former Lt. Gov. Jim Gardner as chairman of the state Alcohol Beverage Control Commission.
MORE BILLS: Moped owners would have to register and get insurance for their vehicles under a bill filed Thursday. A few other bills of note filed at the end of the legislative week include:
- H 38: Repeal Second Primaries. Candidates would no longer have to get 40 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.
- H61: Reform Oversight of State-Owned Vehicles. Based on WRAL's prior reporting, better management seems in order.
- S 9: Restore Partisan Judicial Elections. Republicans have long contended that nonpartisan elections came to pass when GOP judges started winning statewide elections.
WE'LL BE BACK: Today @NCCapitol appears by 8 a.m. each day the legislature is in session. The next Today post will be Monday morning.